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Aleppo's Christians see regime as last hope

Five years into the Syrian conflict, Syria's Christians continue to fight for their existence, turning to the regime as a last resort.
A Syrian rebel looks at damaged display cases inside a former church turned into a film museum which was shelleld by government forces in Aleppo's old city on January 17, 2013. Rebels trying to break a months-long deadlock in their battle for Syria's second city Aleppo say they are cutting supply routes ahead of simultaneous assaults on regime bases.  AFP PHOTO/AAMIR QURESHI        (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The conflict in Syria entered its fifth year this month, and many parts of the country and their inhabitants are hardly recognizable. This is true of the war-torn city of Aleppo, my hometown, with its mosaic of religious, social and ethnic groups who have all had to deal with the harsh realities and horrors of war on a daily basis.

To gauge the sentiment of one such community, I paid a visit to a quaint part of town. Siryan Adeemeh, or Old Siryan, is an elevated area in the regime-controlled west of Aleppo. A working-class neighborhood home to Christian Arabs of several denominations, Siryan Adeemeh is also inhabited by a sizable Muslim and Kurdish population. It's one of the few areas of Aleppo where churches outnumber mosques, and communal relations had always been jovial and friendly, as could be seen while strolling its maze-like narrow streets, lined with markets, cafes, sandwich shops, bars and liquor stores. But as the conflict took its toll, the atmosphere grew perceptibly edgier and increasingly paranoid.

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